Wake Up, Marketers in India!

A recent conversation with a friend who’s putting together an online campaign for her brand:

Me: BTW, in your campaign, have you ensured all the consumer data you are planning to collect would be properly protected? After all, you are collecting some sensitive personal data from folks

She: Our IT Team is excellent – am sure they have the most secure database systems. Besides, Indian junta is not all that concerned yaar! You are always paranoid

Me: Sure your IT Team is the best and has secure systems. But what about your sales team that is going to carry some of that data on their laptops? And your digital media agency that is running the campaign for you? How do you know their people would be careful?

Me: And, BTW, am paranoid because if the data gets into the wrong hands, YOUR organisation would be liable – and YOU, Madam, would answerable!

She: Well…whatever… you anyways don’t really understand consumer perceptions…

Well…to folks like my friend and others targeting the Indian consumer – it is time to wake up and smell the coffee!

Consumer perceptions on privacy are changing in India. In a country where every seminar and debate I have attended on privacy in the last two years has focused on how “Indians are culturally different and their attitude towards privacy is lax”, a recent study proves otherwise.

In a study on privacy awareness and perception in India conducted by Prof Ponnurangam Kumaraguru (PK) and his team at IIIT Delhi, covering more than 10,000 individuals across the country, some interesting insights have emerged that challenge the existing perceptions about Privacy and Indians – especially when it comes to the online world. Here are some key takeaways from the study:

Participants showed more concerns about privacy through mobile phones and Internet than other forms of privacy issues (physical, territorial, work place, etc.)’. This shows that even if the friendly lady sitting next to you on a flight may readily tell you all about her family, she is going to be on her guard while doling out information online in your next lead generation campaign.

More than half (53.64%) said they would NOT like to share household income details and 62.77% said they would not like to divulge personal income. Marketers running surveys asking for this data may like to keep this reluctance in mind. Maybe I can now dream that the next time I fill a form while purchasing a microwave, I don’t have to argue with the aggressive salesman telling me it is “compulsory” to fill in such details?

When asked “Consumers have lost all control over how personal information about them is circulated and used by companies”, as high as 76.63% “agreed” or “strongly agreed”. Companies dealing with personal information should take cognizance of this and design their communication to assure their consumers that their data would remain safe with them. Needless to say, in the process, ensure that their backend processes and systems live up to this commitment.

In response to “Websites can hinder privacy by collecting personal information”, 71.22% “agreed” or “strongly agreed”. So friends running online campaigns, please give out the right messages and signals to reassure your target users. And make sure your websites are secure – multiple surveys have shown that 70% or more websites are insecure!

As high as 60% said they don’t use phone banking services to transfer money from their account as ‘they fear information may be leaked through phone tapping’ or ‘because they are not sure who is on the other side’. Time for Bankers and other payment industry folks to work towards changing this perception?

Awareness about online tracking and online privacy also seems to be going up:

–       56.23% of respondents said they removed cookies from their browsers after using the Internet. This means that more than half your users are aware of such mechanisms being used and are doing something about it. So online marketers and website developers – keep this in mind if you have campaigns dependent on cookies and tracking via cookies

–       As high as 67.91% of respondents have read or at least browsed through privacy policies on Ecommerce and banking websites. In fact, the study further states that survey participants were more aware about privacy policies and tended to read these policies more than the earlier study in 2004.  So folks, make sure your privacy policy is accurate and based on reality. Besides, the rules on sensitive data protection under the Indian IT Act 2008 mandate putting up such a policy on your website

–       Interestingly, 27.26% of respondents have apprehensions about allowing third party applications on Social Media (like Facebook) to access their personal info. So if you are developing apps around your product or for marketing campaigns, it would be savvy to minimize the amount of personal data you collect – you are likely to increase the number of subscribers thanks to this decision.

Look forward to many more such insights from Prof PK & his team.


About Shivangi

Arrka Consulting provides Consulting & Advisory Services in the areas of IT Risk. Whether you are a large organisation or an SMB or even an individual, we help address challenges that each of you face in this domain
This entry was posted in Data Protection & Privacy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Wake Up, Marketers in India!

  1. srp says:

    It is indeed a wake-up call. Happy to see that awareness to protect our digital identities is increasing. Lot more sustained educational campaigns need to happen.

  2. sujatapatil says:

    A very good read… I am happy that awareness is increasing, but also need to ensure that I take adequate measures when I surf the net…

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